Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Twenty-Second Report


S.I. 2003/1080: memorandum from the Privy Council Office

General Optical Council (Registration and Enrolment (Amendment) Rules) Order of Council 2003 (S.I. 2003/1080)

1. The Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments asked for an explanation of the reasons for the increase in fees payable by ophthalmic and dispensing opticians to the General Optical Council (GOC). The GOC sought a fee increase of £10 from April 2003 which makes the annual registration fee £115 (£68 if for less than a three month period) and the restoration fee £43. This represents a 9.5% increase.

2. The increase in fees was based upon an anticipated increase in work undertaken by GOC. The projected increase in workload arises for two particular reasons:

(a) Like all regulatory bodies GOC are experiencing a steady increase in the number of complaints they have to deal with. Disciplinary hearings in 2003/04 are expected to take up in almost double the number of days that were required in 2002/03; and

(b) GOC are also undertaking a modernisation of the regulation of the optical profession in response to Government priorities to protect the public and ensure that professions are properly regulated.

3. The increase in the volume of complaints, with the consequent number of disciplinary hearings, is estimated to account for over half of the increased costs that have led to the fee increase. Modernisation has seen increased costs because of increased work and the need for additional staff to take forward the work as GOC were not staffed for the work needed.

4. Department of Health Ministers accepted the GOC's case and recommended the Privy Council to approve the fee increase in view of the increasing workload, and to deliver improved professional self-regulation so as to ensure the public is properly protected. The proposed increase of 9.5% was considered reasonable in view of the increased pressure of work and the need for developmental investment.

28th May 2003

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